From F. Scott Fitzgerald's essay, 'The Crack-up":
"So there was not an "I" any more—not a basis on which I could organize my self-respect—save my limitless capacity for toil that it seemed I possessed no more. It was strange to have no self—to be like a little boy left alone in a big house, who knew that now he could do anything he wanted to do, but found that there was nothing that he wanted to do—"
This essay is the author telling of when something psychologically very bad happened to him in his late 30's. I'm not exactly sure what Fitzgerald is describing in 'The Crack-up'. I want to say 'clinical depression', but there are a lot of things that don't fit, for example, the above paragraph, which sounds almost like Zen satori gone horribly, horribly wrong. Fitzgerald seems just to have lost his place in the world, lost his "I" as he says. The essay is fascinating, if chilling, reading, and I think many of us would recognize our our own thoughts in it.
From James Agee's essay, "Knoxville: Summer of 1915":
[A summer evening] "On the rough wet grass of the back yard my father and mother have spread quilts. We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there. [...] All my people are larger bodies than mine, quiet, with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds. One is an artist, he is living at home. One is a musician, she is living at home. One is my mother who is good to me. One is my father who is good to me. By some chance, here they are, all on this earth; and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of night. May God bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away.
After a little I am taken in and put to bed. Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her: and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am."
James Agee, meet Ayanami Rei.
From "The Transcendental World," by Sokei-an Sasaki, in Zen Notes, vol. 1, no. 5. (quoted in Alan Watts' The Way of Zen):
"One day I wiped out all the notions from my mind. I gave up all desire. I discarded all the words with which I thought and stayed in quietude. I felt a little
queer—as if I were being carried into something, or as if I were touching some power unknown to me ... and Ztt! I entered. I lost the boundary of my physical body. I had my skin, of course, but I felt I was standing in the center of the cosmos. I spoke, but my words had lost their meaning. I saw people coming towards me, but all were the same man. All were myself! I had never known this world. I had believed that I was created, but now I must change my opinion: I was never created; I was the cosmos; no individual Mr. Sasaki
From Bloom County Babylon:
Who are you?
Who are you?
Who are you?